Conversations With You
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003
Subject: Behold this day
I just stumbled onto your site linked to Ex.Christian.net. I will read more of your articles soon as I have just left my religion for the truth of life. Your article is similar to the teachings in Thich Nhat Hanh's "Miracle of Mindfulness." I studied his method's of humanism along with others my senior year in college, however I had just became a Christian and I did not implement his meditation ideas longer than necessary to write a paper on him. Now I have gone back and I find being in the moment the most extraordinary experience there is. It is so rewarding, more satisfying than the concept of heaven.
Thanks for writing. I look forward to reading your other articles.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I deeply appreciate hearing from those who find my site useful in some way. I do hope you will have the time to read some of the other essays and writings in my site.
I have become interested in a life philosophy that is sometimes called the Way of the Warrior, and one of the observations of that Way is that we can only live in one of two states - as slaves or as warriors. The appreciation of the present moment and the structuring of one's life around that constant, momentous presence of life is one of the main attributes of living as a warrior. When we were manipulated and taken advantage of in the present by those in religion who promised us a glorious future in heaven, we were truly living as slaves. I am heartened when I hear of someone who has decided not to sacrifice their life by becoming willing sheep for those who would enslave.
Best wishes on your continuing journey and write again anytime.
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Subject: Great Web Site!
I just wanted to say how great I think your web site is! I wish I had read a lot of this years ago, as it would have helped me during my time of trials after leaving christianity. I never thought that I was the "only" person like me, but I had never really read the writings of people who actually described my deconversion process as precisely as you have done.
I read your reading list and was astounded by how many of your books that I own and have read. It appears we think alike. There is one particular book that really forced me to break my bonds to religion a few years ago called Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie. I have recommended it to everyone I know who is experiencing any kind of cognitive dissonance (religion is one of the BIG ones, but there are many others). It is one of the only books I have read that made me look at the world with completely new eyes. Based on the content of your website and your reading list, I think you would really enjoy this book. Even those who have already broken with their religion I think can greatly profit from this book.
Keep up the good work! I have bookmarked your URL and I will recomend it to any proto-rational individuals that I encounter in the future.
Thanks so much for your email. I am always rewarded when I hear that someone has found my site to be useful.
I was not familiar with the book you mentioned, and I'll look forward to obtaining it and reading it. Thanks for the tip! I am planning to update that book list on my site fairly soon. I've been too busy reading and thinking to keep it properly current!
"Proto-rationals", eh? I like that. I wish more of us humans were, but most would rather remain slaves than become warriors, also not realizing that those are the only two choices.
Thanks again for writing, and for your recommendations of my site. Best wishes on your continuing journey!!
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003
Subject: Finding your site.
It has been a pleasure for me to come upon your site. Many of your responses to religion and the Bible strike a similar chord here in my own heart. It seems we may be embarked on a similar journey into this magnificent unknown. More and more I am seeing this as the only life worth living.
I too was bound heart and soul in orthodox Christianity, coming out it seems in nearly parallel years with the times you mention. For 29 years I was totally mesmerized by the Watchtower. A system I loved dearly, generating a passion that consumed my every thought. There was never a time I was without my wonderful Bible, "reading in an undertone, day and night," its pages penciled in tiny notes and references crowded in margins and between lines until in places the reading became difficult.
Each time a volume was filled and thoroughly dog-eared, I'd begin a new one, finding new thoughts coming even to old and well worn scriptures, trusting this was the spirit of my god Jehovah teaching me personally, showing me things I never dreamed. And how my heart would soar. Most likely you have had similar experiences.
I find only good things in your journey, nothing I disagree with except I wonder how you come to terms with invisible spirits roaming our world? For there was a time I was possessed by one of these, my face contorting uncontrollably as the angry thing raged. ....
I am deeply involved these days examining the knowledge of Theosophy, an ancient explanation of science, religion, and ethics thousands of years old, which is explaining so many things long puzzling from past experiences (in this life). What has brought the subject of evil spirits to my mind is the Theosophical page I read this morning about "rebellious spirits" who long ago forsook their heavenly abode to come to earth and take the form of men. Similar to that explained in Genesis as being the reason for the flood in Noah's day.
Don't get me wrong here David, I no longer believe the Bible's accounts, but the mention of these "rebellious" spirits from recordings in ancient Tibet many years before the Bible, with these paralleling each other, has certainly raised questions in my mind in regard to the fact this universe may in truth be a dangerous place for people relatively inexperienced and open-minded like you and I.
I have other experiences with spirits as well, some quite beneficial, rationally proven by the same spirit being involved with another person at a different time, we discovering this in a casual conversation years later. .... Perhaps you have had experiences of your own which you might share. I am interested in all things of a spiritual nature, firmly convinced there is only one genuine truth, and eager for finding what that is.
Thank you for posting your pages, I found a lot of strength and reassurance coming from your words, a thing I find I need from time to time, as having been knocked down many times I am somewhat wearied these days of life, and being alone, misunderstood, and introspective by nature, I am overcome at times with depression.
It's nice to have met you David. Thanks for laying your heart out here for guys like me. Must have taken a lot of courage; yet now that I think of it maybe what it really took was love. "Perfect love throws fear outside," remember?
Finding people like you makes the load light, and the struggle worthwhile.
All the best,
I am very pleased that you found my site and found similarities and thoughts that reflect and support your own. It was for such readers that I made the site. I was fascinated with your story, and I see that you have struggled with more than just the philosophical concepts of theism vs. non-theism. I, too, am curious about what is "really out there", and whether that includes non-human beings. Whether fortunately or otherwise, I have not personally ever directly encountered anything that could be called a spirit being, or for that matter anything that could be characterized as a "charismatic" experience. The Christian creed I grew up in strictly disallowed any such thing, and any such claims by others were automatically ascribed to emotionalism.
It's funny, really, that now that I've left religion behind me that I can at last approach the idea of spirit worlds or beings. You said you have been studying these things through the lens of Theosophy. I have had such a break with man-created philosophies that I can only authentically approach the unknown from the vantage point of the oldest and most primitive of approaches - that of shamanism. It is within this new paradigm that I have begun to have some beginnings of spiritual experience, namely traditional shamanistic dreams during a vision-quest I took last year to the deserts of Utah and Arizona. (See my site "A Circle In The Desert" for details. http://www.newrational.com/circle)
There are some compelling and amazing things to be experienced and considered from the shamanistic viewpoint, many of which are, indeed, frightening. I agree with you when you say that it may be a dangerous universe for people like us. It may be a wondrous and sublime one, too, of course, and that makes it worth pursuing. The Unknown is really the only thing worth pursuing, for the alternative is mundanity and meaninglessness - or worse, slavery.
There is an advanced philosophy of living that I have begun to adopt that is very helpful in structuring my mind to deal with these things. It has been collected together from a number of philosophies, teachings, and Ways and has now begun to be called "The Way of the Warrior". If you are interested, you might want to check it out sometime. The best condensation and presentation of it is a book called "The Craft of the Warrior" by Robert Spencer. Dan Millman's book "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" is another expression of it. A basic observation of this way is that we have only this one life to live, and we can live it in only one of two ways: as a warrior or as a slave. From the warrior's stance, we can lift ourselves out of the common illusion and apprehend the universe with power and increasing knowledge instead of weakness and ignorance.
Thank you for your observation about love. That is true. When it comes from an authentic place, love is the greatest strength and power we can wield to change the world, and in doing so, change and empower ourselves as we face that which is Unknown.
Nice to meet you, as well, BG, and please write anytime.
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003
Subject: Thank you for "The Joy of Disillusionment" website
I am a former Christian who has come to an agnostic/atheist belief though many years of searching and praying. I am now a college student and still living at home, and the hardest part about being a former Christian is that my parents are very avid Christians. I still haven’t worked up the nerve to tell them because I’m worried how they will react and what it would do to them. Thank you for your website; it’s good to know I’m not the only who has gone though this sort of thing.
And I love your poetry. I made an image with one of your poems using PhotoShop and I thought you might like to see it. I don’t have plans to use it on a website, but if you want to use it you are welcome to.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that." -Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
I want to thank you very much for taking the time to write to me. I really appreciate hearing from friends who find my site to be of some value. I appreciate your situation about not telling family members - it can be a really tricky thing, depending on the circumstances. My feelings are that not everyone needs to know what we think, but that we should be always authentic in how we present ourselves to others, should the subject come up. Parents and spouses are a special case, of course. I'm nearly 50 and I still have not told my own mother in so many words just what a shift I've gone through and where I really am now in my thinking! I guess I'll do so only if she really wants to know and makes an effort to find out.
I am particularly gratified that you resonated with my poems.... I was hoping that they would mean something to someone out there. It was fun to see the graphic version you made, and it inspired me to thank you by making one of my own for you. (Since I'm a graphic designer and animator by profession - I couldn't resist!) I've attached it, but if it doesn't come through, let me know. I made this with Bryce (background landscape) and Photoshop for the text and some effects. Hope you like it!
BTW, that is one of my favorite lines from Harry Potter!
Best wishes on your important journey, and please write to me anytime!
Date:Sunday, August 3, 2003
Glad you liked the image I made. Yours is very nice too – I love the background.
Also nice to find another Harry Potter fan
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
More wisdom from Albus Dumbledore, from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (another favorite quote).
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2003
Subject: Your poem page
I see you have put up images for several of your poems : ) Takes a bit longer to load but it looks great. I was feeling a bit depressed this morning about my new-found atheism (hard to break 20 years of conditioning) and decided to visit some of my favorite ex-christian websites for some inspiration. Thanks.
Thanks for triggering the idea for me. I thought the first one turned out nice, so I told myself I should do all of them and redesign the page. Hope it's not too slow loading.
It can be depressing and lonely when you make this change in your life, and your former set of friends and associates may not understand or even wish to remain friends because of their views. I hope you will try to find some others around you who are not enslaved to religion and with whom you can share things. Perhaps one of the humanist groups like the Ethical Society? There may be an atheist/humanist group on your campus. Just thoughts and ideas.
Go have a day of Joy and Wonder!
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003
I am an ex-Christian, and came across your site whilst surfing the web. Congratulations on having put together a really fine website.
My own exodus from Christianity was in 1994, (I was born in 1950, and was raised in a Lutheran church. I had started going to church again after I overdosed on ethylcocaine in 1984 - I've been clean and sober ever since) after getting an actual divorce from my second wife (who I met after ODing). We both attended a Pentecostal/Charismatic church. There I was, my life in a mess, wondering why, after everything I'd done and been told at church. I didn't have a job either at the time, so I started to investigate everything (I was pretty angry at that point) - the book itself, other religions, science, etc. It is truly disturbing and disheartening, when one is a Christian, and finds out that the bible is not what they claim it to be (and thus I had been wasting time, effort and most of all MONEY in Christianity), and that literalized myths and pseudepigraphic texts (used to "support" each other!) were the sole foundation of Christian dogma. At the same time though, I felt liberated as well. I still have to play the part on occasion, though....
..my father is a very strict and conservative Christian. He's 85 and couldn't take the shock if he found out the truth. I love him, and don't want to do anything to hurt him. He's a wonderful person. I am on the Mystical Pagan path of ancient Egypt, and I have found that I like it there.
I guess a great influence for me was reading Alvin Boyd Kuhn's works, especially 'Who is This King of Glory?' and also what I found out during the course of my investigations, which included the facts that the Hebrew names used for God in the OT were borrowed from PAGAN religions! (El was the chief deity of the Canaanites and Yah, the Egyptian moon God.). That is what helped put me over the edge (the Christian claim of the unique "only true God" having been totally destroyed at that point), not to mention the contradictions and inconsistencies I found, when I actually sat down and really looked at it. I have always felt drawn to the Egyptian way, as well, including when I actually went and saw the King Tut exhibit that was touring the country ..I saw it in Chicago...to be less than a yard away from the famous golden mask was something I never will forget. I have found Divinity in Nature, and not in some distant angry and unapproachable being. Another thing I ended up with as a result of all of my studies was a really decent Library!
I noticed that you were currently looking at entheogens. I thought you might find the following web sites to be of interest:
Well, that's it. I found what you shared on your site to be very touching and personal. I thought I'd accept your invitation and share a little bit about me.
Feel free to drop a note anytime if you ever want to chat.
Bright Blessings to you and yours,
Thank you for your email - I am always so pleased whenever someone finds my site to be of value in some way. I do resonate with the story of your philosophical journey, and also with your reticence to reveal your paradigm shift to your father. I have not fully explained my journey to my 80 year old Mother, either. I figure that if she wants to know more, she can ask me and I'll be authentic in my responses, but she just may not need to hear all of that.
One of the values I receive from the website is the information I receive from others. I have read many things (and like you, I have developed quite a library!), but I can't say I'm familiar with the author you mentioned. I'll enjoy checking it out when I can.
Thanks for the entheogen links. I was already familiar with those, but I am always looking for new data and resources. I'm planning to go to Peru one of these days and visit with some of the shaman elders down in the Amazon. I follow the Way of the Warrior now, and seek knowledge and power in the realms outside of what is known.
Best of wishes on your Egyptian path of mysticism. There is deep knowledge there, much of it lost. I think we will see some amazing things come out of the old Egypt lands in the next few years.
Again, thanks for writing - I really do appreciate it. I'm working on an update of the site right now, so check back with me soon, and write anytime.
The present moment is not mundane. It is, in essence, extraordinary. -DC
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